“Try not to put any judgment on why you like the things you like or why they like what they like,” she says, noting that the fact is that rough sex can stimulate your nervous system in its own unique way, and enjoying these acts says nothing moral or value-based about who you or your partner are as people.
The bottom-line, according to Balestrieri: “When we withhold judgment, we can be far more expansive in our ability to give and receive pleasure.”
Whether your main experience with aggressive sex thus far includes bingeing the Fifty Shades series or you’re a seasoned pro at incorporating hair pulling, lip biting, and spanking into your bedroom repertoire, it can feel like there’s always more to learn about having rough sex – especially because the definition is a fluid one.
Kate Balestrieri, Psy.D., sex and intimacy therapist and founder of Modern Intimacy, explains, “The definition of rough sex is very subjective and varies on every person’s threshold of pain and discomfort.” But no matter what it looks like to you, “consent is imperative,” she adds.
Here, how to figure out if rough sex is for you – and the best practices for having the most pleasurable experience, according to experts.
You might find yourself feeling inspired to try more aggressive sexual acts after seeing it in a movie, porn, or talking about it with a partner who has experienced it, explains Balestrieri.
Or it’s possible that you’ll find yourself yearning for more during what would be considered non-rough, or vanilla, sex. And while you might not know what that means at first, you could start to learn more about what you like by engaging in a rough act with a partner and finding it opens up a whole new portal of excitement and curiosity for you, says Balestrieri.
Interest in rougher play might also stem from wanting to address a feeling of stagnance or lack of electricity with a partner, says Molly Godfrey, a trained dating and intimacy coach in New York City. “Is there a desire to experience different forms of pleasure together? Is there a desire to explore more submissive/dominant roles in your relationship? Is there a desire to strengthen your communication by adding in more intensity?” she asks.
Regardless of the initial impetus, it can be exhilarating to bring intensity into sex, says Chavez. “Rough, aggressive behavior is considered taboo and naughty, so it feels even more arousing,” she explains.
Tap into your imagination.
Zhana Vrangalova, Ph.D., NYU professor of Human Sexuality and a sexpert for LELO, suggests imagining activities that could constitute rough sex. This could include hair pulling, slapping, pinning down, aggressive dirty talk, hard and fast penetration, spitting, bondage, etc.
Shannon Chavez, Psy.D., a psychologist and sex therapist in Los Angeles suggests watching ethical porn that displays rough play to see how you feel in your body as you are experiencing all of the visual cues, sounds, and intensity. “There are also books and sex education videos on the topic, and sex therapy and coaching are also a place to explore how to incorporate rough play dynamics into the relationship in a way that is consensual and enjoyable for all partners,” she notes.
Initiate a conversation.
To get the ball rolling, you might tell your partner that you’d be curious to try any of the above acts that resonate with you, says Vrangalova. Or if you’re feeling slightly less assertive, you could send them a porn clip that you like, which could fuel further discussion.